Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade
Monday, February 4, 2019, 50°F (10°C), 8:30 pm, very warm for winter with rain
In November 2017, I had read a book called “Keeping LOVE alive as memories fade.” and I had written about it in MJWS. Now I am reflecting on it again with few additional observations.
The premise of the book is…. there are 5-Love Languages and the deep human need for love does not disappear when a person has Alzheimer’s disease.
The 5-Love languages are;
1. Word of Affirmation: Unsolicited compliments, whether verbal or written, or words of appreciation. Example, “I love you.” “You did an amazing job.” “You look great in that dress.”
While taking care of Sumi, Sumi’s two caregivers have learned few Gujarati language phrases and constantly tell her in Gujarati: “Sumi bahu gamey" (Sumi is liked a lot), "Sumi bahu saras" (Sumi is very good). Sumi does understand these words and responds positively to these words of affirmation. This has increased her trust in and bonding with the caregivers.
2. Quality time: Giving someone your full, undivided attention. Sharing thoughts, feelings, desires, and experiences with emphasis on really listening to another person. One caregiver who comes in the morning is usually busy with lot of chores. Whereas, when the other caregiver who comes in the evening, it is more relaxing. Evening caregiver is able to spend quality time with Sumi and this has made a big difference in Sumi. Simi’s engagement and enjoyment has increased with decreased agitation.
3. Gifts (or Receiving Gifts): By giving gifts, it is the effort behind the gift that sends the “I love you” message. Being physically present, the gift of your time, is an intangible gift that is very precious, especially in times of crisis, illness or celebration.
Sumi is not capable of receiving and appreciating any tangible gifts but while I am feeding her and give her sweets, I could see the joy and happiness on her face as if she is receiving the best gifts.
Sometimes, she would want to feed me that same sweets from her plate…as if she wants to gift me her precious possession!
Many of our friends and relatives have given us intangible gifts – the gift of their time. They have stayed with us, visited us, invited us to their homes, gone out for dinner or brought home cooked food for us.
4. Act of Service: Doing helpful things for others, such as setting the table, walking the dog, washing dishes, vacuuming, or grocery shopping. The purpose is to lighten the load of another person.
5. Physical touch: Deliberate touch that requires your full attention, such as, a back rub, a foot massage, a hug, a “high five” or a kiss or sitting on a sofa together holding each other’s hands.
This especially very valuable for the persons with the disease as physical touch gives them assurance and security which translates into less agitation. Kissing Sumi on her forehead, holding Sumi’s hands while walking or holding them while in bed just before sleeping makes her assured and has calming effect on her.
In a normal relationship between 2 people, the above 5 love languages are reciprocal. With Sumi, these 5-love languages are mostly intentional and unidirectional - from me to her. When Sumi is the recipient of any of these 5 love languages, I look for a smallest clue from her, in way of smile on her face, or reduced agitation and it is gratifying.